inspiration, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, Personal Development, Personal growth

Reimagining Sacrifice

“Every choice we make is a sacrifice of sorts, when you think of it. And we often do it without thought. It’s when we are confronted with the biggies… changing our life course in one way or another… that sacrifice becomes A Really Big Deal. Learning to cultivate the awareness of this, and transferring energy to radical positive actions is an art.”

I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of sacrifice. How it’s often seen in a negative light… one of nostalgia, guilt or regret. Of giving up one’s own path to boost another’s. Of deprivation. Of punishment. And often unwillingly.

I began then to consider a shift in perspective. To see sacrifice as an intentional, willing offering up. An act of redemption and rebirth. A surrender to what is, in order to allow opportunities to be seen. A liberation from the tight attempted control of ego over circumstances. As the book I’m reading currently says “giving up the transitory for the sake of the transcendent.”

Every choice we make is a sacrifice of sorts, when you think of it. And we often do it without thought. It’s when we are confronted with the biggies… changing our life course in one way or another… that sacrifice becomes A Really Big Deal. Learning to cultivate the awareness of this, and transferring energy to radical positive actions is an art.

Callings” by Gregg Levoy is one of the guiding books I’ve returned to many times in life. He writes: “Every sacrifice, though, every step toward action, every response to a call necessitates a leap of faith and is done without knowing the outcome. It is, as the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard described, the epitome of anxiety meeting courage. It is Jonah leaping overboard, which seems like madness, yet often in following our own calls, we’re told by others that we’re crazy. At some level, we, too have to make an ultimate sacrifice to our callings. We need to devote everything, our whole selves. A part-time, sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, wont’s suffice. You must know that you mean business, that you’re going to jump into it up to your eye sockets and not turn back at the last minute. In making the leap from vision to form, you will be tested and suffer setbacks, occasionally severe. At our first steps toward authenticity– or love or compassion or any high calling–every devil in in hell will come out to meet us. Only when you try your vision in the world can you test whether it’s true.”

The description of sacrifice being the epitome of anxiety meeting courage… whoa! What a powerful interpretation of the concept of “leap of faith”!! I’ve talked before about the “oh shit” moment from the book “Radical Leap”, and following the what ifs as a jumping off point for adventure and discovery. And committing once and for all, as presented by Alan Seale. These are all ways of sacrificing what was, what is, for what can be. Devoting one’s self to the process, regardless of outcome.

You be thinking, but hey.. he’s talking about commitment to an action… isn’t that contradictory to surrender? I don’t see it as such. What if you replace the word surrender to awareness, acknowledgement, or acceptance? Doing so might open sight to possibilities within a circumstance. Or it might indicate we need to change something completely.

“What are you willing to give up to ensure your own unfolding, and the unfolding of what is holy in your life?”

Creativity, drawing, inspiration, journaling

Layering Source Dreams on Reality

Dream doodling Baba Yaga’s hut

When I was a kid, I was happiest floating on simply being. Laying on my belly, looking at the world up close. Or making cabins for faeries out of twigs on the ground. Wandering through the woods looking for mayflowers and magic. Making up stories and walking around in them until they felt real.

In part, that’s what childhood is for. For some of us, it’s a calling. As an older child and into adulthood, I hid in music, playing oboe and sending out stories written in notes and magic made with my breath.

The question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” made me supremely uncomfortable.

How do you explain to your friends who were planning on being teachers or nurses or mommies that you wanted to live in a hut like Baba Yaga’s so you could take home with you wherever you wandered…to live in a cabin in the woods and write stories. To have people come visit for tea and send them away with packets of magic folded in paper to be tucked away in a pocket and found later when needed?

I’ve had flashes of this as an adult… making things people found beautiful, writing stories, creating magic with sound, having tea with friends and when they left we both felt healed. In the primary world this is why we have hobbies, and friends, and tea.

Times when my ordinary work served a greater purpose.

Sometimes late at night I see myself as a much older woman, standing in the shade looking out at a beach of white sand and a sea of impossible blue. A gentle wind is teasing my dress, inviting me to dance. In this moment I know that whatever I do in life, I will have lived a good one when it’s done, hopefully long from now.

And still. I long to live in a cabin, creating magic that people can see and feel and hear. And maybe take home a packet of paper tucked in a pocket to be found later when needed.

goal setting, inspiration, Personal Development, Personal growth

On Being Scare-cited

Or is it me, knowing I will have to continually evolve, be WILLING to step up out of my comfort zone every time my level up gets comfortable? I mean, isn’t that what I so often write about, tell people in conversation? That evolution, becoming, growing, whatever trendy term is out there- involves loss sometimes as well as growth.

As I lay in bed this morning I realized, my good ol’ buddy imposter syndrome was there. Whispering. I listened, for awhile.. I’m scared (but, more truthfully, scare-cited). That this new venture of mine will go nowhere, and that what we are now calling seasons and we used to call chapters or golden years will turn into another good Lord I don’t know why because I’ve had more moth years than golden ones.

And then I told my self. Whoa whoa whoa… just a minute. who’s that talking anyway? Is is family figures who have told me time and time again out of love, with a good frosting of fear, to do something ordinary, stable and safe? The jealous ones who could smell uncertainty on me like I’d spilled a bottle of cheap perfume at the drug store and thankyouverymuch, I’ll just show myself out and never come back?

I knew I had to get up and RUN to the keyboard, or all of this was going to fly off to a different conduit. Before I even had coffee!! (I wish I could remember the author who first described writing as flying on the wind, looking for a place to land. It was so powerful, and has stayed with me over the years.)

Or is it me, knowing I will have to continually evolve, be WILLING to step up out of my comfort zone every time my level up gets comfortable? I mean, isn’t that what I so often write about, tell people in conversation? That evolution, becoming, growing, whatever trendy term is out there- involves loss sometimes as well as growth.

I know I’m standing on the precipice of Big Change. Something I’ve seen and dreamt of for so long, and it scares the bleep out of me. Steve Farber in his book. “The Radical Leap “calls it the “oh shit moment”. How taking that leap is like standing on top of a snowy hill with a small cookie sheet for a sled, looking waaay down, saying “Oh shit!”, grabbing that cookie sheet as if your life depended on it, flying down that hill, and then jumping up, saying “wooooo!!! That was great! I wanna do it again!” The point where you commit.

I went to hear a speaker the first time I considered doing something that was emerging called life coaching. I mean waaaay back.. in the 90’s. Back then it was still more corporately oriented, and he talked so much more about making money, gaining followers, building your business.

And I thought.. No.. wait a minute! I want to work with people in a way that’s going to help them become more fully who they are. Not counseling, but helping them find tools that will help them be more fully who they were meant to be on the planet. And have fun while they are doing it.

I thought of my own radical leaps.

Of all the conversations I’ve had with friends and strangers alike that have been life affirming.

Of leaving a marriage for which I was never suited.

Of talking my way out of being mugged at gunpoint by staying calm and rational. That was many many many years ago, and I don’t recommend it. I don’t think that would have ended the same way today.

Of moving West to literally run away to join the circus. That let to a moderately successful career as a costume designer and fabricator, my work published in Vogue Italia and Kerrang!, and meeting then-President and First Lady Obama not once, but four times.

Of taking on a retail job I didn’t want but had to in a big box store because it meant survival- pushing monster carts of product, folding t-shirts like I was on a game show and the buzzer was going off at any minute, and feeling like the ground was going to open up and swallow me every time I went “up front” to work the registers. That one became so much more, because there I learned to meet people where they were, with grace. That many people were there for connection, as much if not more than for toothpaste. How to observe and roll with a management style that would constantly call people out for not being enough with one hand, and give performance awards to the same people with the other.

Of being brave enough to leave that job, for so many reasons, without something else solid in place. Talk about an Oh Shit Moment! (and Dear Universe, please bring something that will provide me resources soon)

Of going to a conference outside my realm and coming back with a complete download of what I want to do going forward (this adventure in blogging and podcasting is part of it). I’d in part gone to observe the presenters, and I figured if an EXPERT can be nervous presenting, than so can I!

Of this past couple of years, like for so many of us, taking pause. Reassess. Circle back to where my true heart is.

Of putting my music out there. I cried recently the day I saw one of my songs had been listened to 1,000 times in less than a year. That step of bravery has shown me, if I don’t step up and step out, people will never know.

Of getting certified as a meditation guide, so I can enhance what I’ve been calling sound experiences.

Of learning to take critiques as learning opportunities, and not announcements of failure.

It’s about daring greatly, a term popularized by Brene Brown in her talk and book by that name.

Here’s the quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

It’s about deciding to commit, once and for all, as Alan Seale says in his book “Creating a World that Works”. Once, and for all beings in addition to oneself.

It’s about making meaning and living your values, as Eric Maisel writes in his teachings.

The above people I count among my mentors. I have learned, and continue to learn so much from them.

And you, who are reading or listening. You’re my mentors too, and a HUGE reason why I keep keeping on. I have written something, maybe a bit meandering like this is, and have someone say it was what they needed that day, or that it changed their life direction.

Words have so much power. And I’m a conduit, not The Source. I hope I never lose sight of that.

I hope I never lose sight of how I’m now, finally, in this season/chapter/stage of life, ready to pack up and toss out the beliefs drilled into me of “you can’t. You won’t. You will never.”

I can. I will. I AM. Won’t you come with me?

goal setting, inspiration, instinctive meditation, journaling, meditation, mindfulness, Personal Development, Personal growth

The Glass is Never Empty

You can listen to a podcast version of this post here:

When I entered the consciousness of this morning’s dream, I was in a large meeting room. It seemed Craftsman in style, with open rafters and large light fixtures with amber panes of glass. The quality of light, though, was harsh.

The room was filled with women, mostly, wearing activewear and seated on their yoga mats. I was at the front of the room, and at first thought I was leading the group. Gradually though, almost as if I was being nudged away from my seat, were a man and woman clearly in charge. the woman was dressed like the other women, and the man was dressed business casual, with a very thin black belt worn a few notches too tight.

The women, one by one, were bringing up small tokens they’d made as part of an exercise. One brought up a slice of wood with writing on it. The couple asked her what it meant, she shyly muttered something, and then the couple interpreted what she’d done, and told her what to do next. She went back to her mat, looking disheartened.

And so it went, person after person. They would open up a little, then were told what they should do.

From out of no where, as it often happens in dreams, came a man dressed in full punk regalia- shaved head, black leather motorcycle jacket, all black clothing with paint splatters and patches, boots. His process art was huge, and he distinctly made the couple leading the workshop uneasy.

His art immediately brought tears to my eyes. It was a large frame of roughly hewn timbers that looked like a torture device. Suspended in it a few inches above the ground was a rectangular slab of stone. It looked like it was hewn with the same tool that shaped the wood. It had a chain wrapped around the center, but somehow he’d manage to connect the stone so it looked like it was floating. Above the stone was floating a bouquet of dried brambles and large dandelion type flowers. (If I could figure a way to make this in waking life, I would, it was so powerful!)

The couple quicky moved to conclude the workshop, but I kept pushing to hear what he had to say. Eventually they relented.

“I’m going to leave this path,” the artist said. “I’m going to pursue mathematics” and he went on to say how he didn’t want to leave art, because it was his soul, but mathematics was more practical, and he could manipulate it to make a lot of money, and someday, maybe some day, he could get back to art.

I asked him what the art represented to him. He replied that the stone was obligations weighing him down, yet somehow also his strength, and that the chain was binding his power. When I asked him about the bouquet, he responded “I just put it there”. I invited him to explore deeper. “It’s my hopes and dreams. My hopes and dreams are withering away”

I asked him to explore his desire to focus on mathematics. To consider that mathematics, once you dive in deeply, is beyond numbers. I mean.. look at the beautiful art created by fractals! That maybe if he got curious, he would see a correlation between the kind of art he did, and math. That he didn’t have to have just one life purpose. That sometimes goals can get in the way of our true heart.

And then I woke up. Thinking about the dream, but also the good old “Is the glass half full, or half empty” thing.

You know what? The glass is never empty. The space above the liquid is full of things we can’t see- air molecules, microscopic bits of plants, stardust, music. We see the glass as half full or half empty because that’s what our perception has been conditioned to see.

And what about the world outside of the glass? What potential is there? What if there were no glass at all?

What would happen if we approach other things in life with this shift in perception? I invite you to stop reading for a moment and pick up an object near you. Look at it with your ordinary vision, then begin to look at it differently. Get curious about the texture, weight, smell, perhaps taste. What are the stories behind any markings on it, or how it came to be in your possession?

When you are ready, explore something going on in your life. A goal, maybe. Sometimes when we hyper focus on a goal, we can lose sight of other corollary goals that might support it, or be a more life fulfilling way of being.Some people know from an early age what they were “meant” to do or be. Others spend their whole life seeking, aching for meaning. Or what they long to do or be doesn’t fit into every day existence.

Many of us believe that we have a life purpose, often just out of reach or perception. Or we’ve been trained to think of it as impractical, or not noble enough. What if we were to consider the possibility of having multiple life purposes, working in partnership? Or look at the deeper meaning of our goal. What basic needs are we wanting to be met with that goal? Love? Attention? Money? Appreciation?

Practice shifting your perspective, and see what unfolds. Maybe you too, will discover a way to create magic within every day life.